Home Graduate Doctoral Program Ph.D. Comprehensive Examinations

Ph.D. Comprehensive Examinations

Each year, at the beginning of the Fall semester, at the end of the winter term and after the end of the Spring semester, designated faculty members will offer a set of written exams testing students in three core disciplines: microeconomic, normative, and political analysis of policy issues. These exams will be based on material covered in School courses, supplemented by additional readings. Examiners will provide supplemental reading lists several months in advance of the exam date. Full-time students will generally take these exams at the end of the first year; part-time students at the end of the second year. Students also have the option of taking fewer than three exams in a given year. In addition, students must fulfill the quantitative methods requirement by successfully completing and defending a research paper.

A student must pass all four comprehensives (economic, normative, political, quantitative), plus additional exams given in areas of specialization, prior to defending a dissertation prospectus and advancing to candidacy. A student who fails one or more of the comprehensive exams may retake these exams when next offered. Generally a student may take each component of the comprehensive exams only twice; a second failure in any area will lead to removal from the PhD program. All comprehensive exams follow open book and open note policy. However, candidates are not allowed to consult with anyone. Each exam takes approximately 8 hours to complete.

Currently, the faculty members who administer the exams are:

  • Political Analysis - Chris Foreman
  • Normative Analyasis - David Crocker
  • Economic Analysis - Phillip Swagel
  • Quantitative Analysis - Alok Bhargava

Previous Exams and Reading Lists

2013Political Analysis (Reading List) || Political Analysis (Exam) || Normative Analysis (Reading List) || Normative Analysis (Exam)

2013Microeconomic Analysis (Exam) || Quantitative Analysis (Instructions)